Fired Up:
Monumental Clay

June 18-August 28, 2016

Image credit: Viola Frey, Stubborn Woman, Orange Hands, 2004, ceramic with glazes, 72 x 80 x 72 inches © Artists’ Legacy Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photography by Chris Watson. www.artistslegacyfoundation.org
Fired Up celebrates the powerful potential of ceramic on a monumental scale. The exhibition takes over the Art Center galleries, public and outdoor spaces with large-scale ceramic sculpture and installation.  Featuring the work of diverse artists from around the country in collections throughout the region, as well as a limited number of site-specific installations, Fired Up showcases the creative and expressive possibilities of clay—when scaled.

Susana Arias
Clayton Bailey
Leslie Ann Rice Bock
Shay Church
Shenny Cruces
Stephen De Staebler
Jeffrey Downing
Bean Finneran
Voila Frey
Dennis Gallagher
David Gilhooly
David Kurako
Robert "Bo" Kvenild
Courtney Mattison
Jim Melchert
Tony Natsoulas
Peter Voulkos
Matt Wedel
Wanxin Zhang

The artists in Fired Up shatter our preconceptions of what ceramic art can be, challenging us to think beyond the diminutive clay teacup. These works tower over us, consume our field of vision, require us to navigate around them. They assert themselves as art and object. As Jim Robinson in Large-scale Ceramics writes: “My own view is that to work large is to accept a challenge…create an interaction or dialogue—much more difficult to achieve in small works.”

Scale provides a conceptual tool for Fired Up artists, assisting them in amplifying their message. Some works in the exhibition highlight the viewer’s own fragility and comparative insignificance, even reminding us of our mortality. Other works provoke humor through their magnification of humble, mundane objects. Further works speak to the fundamental connection between clay and earth—reminding us of the acute vulnerabilities of our planet.

In clay, playing with scale inherently involves significant technical prowess—the manipulation of massive amounts of heavy material, along with engineering and structural feats that seemingly defy gravity. The grand vision of the artists in this exhibition can be experienced on a visceral level as they push the boundaries of their medium, bringing ceramics to astounding new levels of craftsmanship and content.

Fired Up kicks off a year of programing in conjunction with the Palo Alto Art Center’s 45th anniversary. The exhibition is timed in conjunction with an institution-wide education initiative, 45 Days of Clay that features exhibitions, workshops, events, residencies, and hands-on workshops for all ages. These programs showcase the importance of ceramic art and education to the Palo Alto Art Center, celebrating our role in introducing ceramic art to thousands of community members in our four-decade history.

Fired Up: Monumental Clay and 45 Days of Clay are supported by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, Peggy and Yogen Dalal, and The Lennox Foundation. Fired Up is supported by the Dorothy Saxe Exhibition Fund with contributions from Lois and Edward Anderson, Brigid Barton, Jeannie Duisenberg and Rich Hlava, Beverly and Peter Lipman, Patrick and Darle Maveety, Collette and Peter Rothschild and Jan and Vic Schachter.

Friday Night at the Art Center: Opening Celebration for
Fired Up: Monumental Clay

Friday, June 17 7 - 10 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road

Celebrate the opening of Fired Up with hands-on artmaking, food trucks, a cash bar provided by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, Big Band music and lots of BIG games for you to play.

2015-2016 Advance Exhibition Schedule

Last Updated: May 2, 2016